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Milan-San Remo 2013: When snow almost stopped La Primavera – Gallery

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Manuel Belletti is helped to the team car

Manuel Belletti is helped to the team car (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) suffered in the cold conditions and eventually retired from the race

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) suffered in the cold conditions and eventually retired from the race (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Paolo Longo Borghini (Cannondale)

Paolo Longo Borghini (Cannondale) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Manuel Belletti (AG2R - La Mondiale)

Manuel Belletti (AG2R - La Mondiale) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Kristijan Koren (Cannondale)

Kristijan Koren (Cannondale) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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A cold, wet, but happy Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka) is shepherded through the crowds after winning the 2013 Milan-San Remo

A cold, wet, but happy Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka) is shepherded through the crowds after winning the 2013 Milan-San Remo (Image credit: Getty Images)
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MTN-Qhubeka's Gerald Ciolek sprints to the win at the 2013 Milan-San Remo, ahead of Peter Sagan and Fabian Cancellara

MTN-Qhubeka's Gerald Ciolek sprints to the win at the 2013 Milan-San Remo, ahead of Peter Sagan and Fabian Cancellara (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Gerlad Ciolek can't believe he's just won the 2013 Milan-San Remo, while Peter Sagan and Fabian Cancellara can't believe they've just lost

Gerlad Ciolek can't believe he's just won the 2013 Milan-San Remo, while Peter Sagan and Fabian Cancellara can't believe they've just lost (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) had a reason to complain

Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) had a reason to complain (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The peloton race towards the finish in San Remo

The peloton race towards the finish in San Remo (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Gerald Ciolek (MTN - Qhubeka) sprints to victory in Milan-San Remo

Gerald Ciolek (MTN - Qhubeka) sprints to victory in Milan-San Remo (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Sagan, Ciolek and Cancellara on the Milan-San Remo podium

Sagan, Ciolek and Cancellara on the Milan-San Remo podium (Image credit: Sirotti)
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The peloton take on the harsh Milan-San Remo conditions

The peloton take on the harsh Milan-San Remo conditions (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Ian Stannard (Sky), Peter Sagan (Cannondale), Gerald Ciolek (MTN - Qhubeka) and Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack - Nissan)

Ian Stannard (Sky), Peter Sagan (Cannondale), Gerald Ciolek (MTN - Qhubeka) and Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack - Nissan) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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A Sky rider battles the conditions

A Sky rider battles the conditions (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Kristijan Koren (Cannondale)

Kristijan Koren (Cannondale) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Racers in the snow during Milan-San Remo

Racers in the snow during Milan-San Remo (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The Milan-San Remo peloton in the snow

The Milan-San Remo peloton in the snow (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Racers battled snowy conditions in Italy

Racers battled snowy conditions in Italy (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma - QuickStep) looks cold

Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma - QuickStep) looks cold (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Cannondale control the front of the peloton

Cannondale control the front of the peloton (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Ian Stannard leads Sagan and Ciolek

Ian Stannard leads Sagan and Ciolek (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Team Sky set the pace

Team Sky set the pace (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Cannondale wait for the race to re-start

Cannondale wait for the race to re-start (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Lars Bak (Lotto) leads the break at Milan-San Remo

Lars Bak (Lotto) leads the break at Milan-San Remo (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team) tried a solo move but ran out of gas on the Poggio

Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team) tried a solo move but ran out of gas on the Poggio (Image credit: Sirotti)
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The Omega Pharma Quick Step bus in the snow

The Omega Pharma Quick Step bus in the snow (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Diego Rosa (Androni Giocattoli)

Diego Rosa (Androni Giocattoli) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Manuel Belletti (AG2R - La Mondiale)

Manuel Belletti (AG2R - La Mondiale) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Racers in the snow at Milan-San Remo

Racers in the snow at Milan-San Remo (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The lead moto flags riders

The lead moto flags riders (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Matteo Montaguti (AG2R - La Mondiale)

Matteo Montaguti (AG2R - La Mondiale) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Matti Breschel (Team Saxo - Tinkoff)

Matti Breschel (Team Saxo - Tinkoff) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

This year's Milan-San Remo is expected to be raced in mild, sunny weather, but La Primavera doesn't always enjoy such spring-like conditions.

In 2013, the race became a battle for survival after the riders were enveloped in a snowstorm for the opening 100km. Riders were covered in snow and ice, and frozen to the bone in scenes that recalled the 1988 Giro d'Italia and the legendary stage over the Passo del Gavia. For a moment, winter snow almost stopped Milan-San Remo.
 
Six years on, riders still recall how cold they felt that day, how much they suffered and how crazy a day it turned out to be.
 
"The only thing I remember is that it was cold! It wasn't heroic – we suffered a hell of a lot," Bora-Hansgrohe's Peter Sagan told Cyclingnews ahead of this Saturday's race.
 
"I was on form and my legs felt good, but the 100km in the snow were tough and affected the whole race."
 
Sagan finished second to MTN-Qhubeka's Gerald Ciolek that day in a hectic small-group sprint after the riders had been bused over the Turchino and eventually started racing again on the Mediterranean coast. Before the restart, riders took warm showers, changed every item of clothing they could and cranked the heating up to maximum in their team vehicles.  
 
Only 135 riders finished the race, with Vladimir Isaychev (Katusha) last over the line. The likes of Tom Boonen and Niki Terpstra defied QuickStep team orders and climbed off after the bus transfer, deciding they’d had enough.
 
Vincenzo Nibali – then of Astana, and later the winner of the race, in 2018 – had wanted to join them after the cold froze his skinny Grand Tour physique. He joined the others under the petrol station canopy for the second start, but soon threw in the towel.   
 
"I wanted to climb, and I eventually did climb off," Nibali told Cyclingnews. "It was a really difficult day. It was extreme weather, and extremely cold because we rolled along under the snow for 100km. How can you race on a two-centimetre carpet of snow? It was impossible."

Britain's Ian Stannard often revels in cold conditions, and raced all the way to San Remo – even joining a strong attack group after the Cipressa. They were joined by Sagan, Ciolek, Fabian Cancellara and a few others, and held off the rest of the peloton. Stannard finished a cold but proud sixth.   
 
"It was pretty horrific," the Team Sky rider recalled to Cyclingnews. "I can remember getting on the team bus after 100km in the snow and feeling so, so cold. I was frozen solid. It was weird to be up there in the finale, but nice, too.

"Geraint Thomas had crashed, and Eddy Boasson Hagen didn't feel great, so I just went for it. It was nice to have a big day out on a legendary day."
 
Click or swipe through our special gallery of photos from the snow-affected 2013 edition of Milan-San Remo.